In these uncertain times, Fred Rogers’ calming words ring more true than ever before, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Despite the sense of unease and dread in the air, you can be that person.
Find out who needs help
Hop onto the community-oriented website Nextdoor.com, which allows you to be virtually in touch with your neighbors. Offer to lend a hand to those who are elderly or disabled. That might mean picking up some extra groceries while you’re out getting yours. When 26-year-old Sarah Levine, a cashier at Trader Joe’s in Eagle Rock, posted a note offering to help stock people’s refrigerators, she was amazed by the response. “I was like, ‘Well, I work at a grocery store, so I might as well put the word out and make myself available for people that need it,’” the Studio City resident said, adding that she has heard from three or four people a day in need of assistance. However, mostly she has received uplifting notes. Also, for older neighbors who might not be tech-savvy, drop off fliers offering to be of service.
Share your extra supplies
Don’t be a hoarder. Despite how things may feel, it’s not the end of times. There’s plenty of food left. If you somehow managed to stockpile goods and have extras — let’s say several rolls of toilet paper — consider sharing them with those who might have been less fortunate at the grocery store earlier this month. It could be as simple as asking your social media friends and dropping off a bag of goods at someone’s home.
Help a nonprofit
Volunteer with an organization such as Project Angel Food, which delivers more than 600,000 meals each year in L.A. to the homes of those homebound with life-threatening health issues. The nonprofit, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, is in need of people to help process and prepare food. “We have no option but to keep working and delivering the meals,” said Richard Ayoub, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We have 1,600 clients, all living with critical illness, who depend on us. They are the people who are most susceptible to get the coronavirus. Most of them are over the age of 60.”
Get involved through email@example.com or call (323) 845-1816. Donations are also critical. “We’ve postponed three fundraisers that were going to bring in $250,000,” Ayoub said, explaining that the organization spent $150,000 in light of the coronavirus to ensure “that all of our clients have three weeks of shelf-stable food in the event that we can’t reach them.” For more information, visit angelfood.org or call (323) 845-1800.
Maintain your friendships
Times like these can be lonely, especially in a city of transplants like L.A. Organize a very small group of people (four or less) for a daily or weekly walk in your neighborhood. It’s a chance to get fresh air while practicing social distancing — that means you’re at least 6 feet apart. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, organize a virtual coffee date with friends, near or far, in front of your computer on Zoom or Skype.
Support your favorite restaurants
If you can afford to, support your favorite local restaurants by ordering takeout or by purchasing a gift card. Help keep these often-beloved mom-and-pop businesses afloat. Lauren Lemos, who with husband Peter owns Wax Paper sandwich shops in Frogtown and Chinatown, said gift cards go a long way. “We, and other small businesses like Wax Paper, see gift cards as a lifeline in these difficult and uncertain times,” she said. “They are a loan from our trusted and incredibly supportive customers who want to see our doors stay open, and we don’t take that trust for granted.”
Make care packages
Create care packages with supplies for seniors or people with preexisting health conditions. Reach out to nursing homes or community groups to see if they know of people in need.
Shop online for a cause
According to nonprofit No Kid Hungry, children will miss more than 101 million meals this week alone because of the school closures. With LAUSD classes on pause at least through early May, donate to nokidhungry.org and help feed students who usually rely on school meals. Or shop at retailers that are donating a portion of proceeds to No Kid Hungry. Local jewelry designer Adina Reyter is donating 20% of all sales this month. “It is my honor to be able to give back and help in any way possible,” she said. “As a wife and mother of three, family is everything, and I pray for this situation to be under control soon. In the meantime, I will do everything I can to help my community and other families in need.”
Help those seeking shelter
Donate money to help those struggling to find shelter during the coronavirus crisis. Students at Pomona College recently set up a GoFundMe to assist displaced students. Find a COVID-19 fundraiser that resonates with you at gofundme.com/c/blog/fundraising-for-coronavirus.
Make a pharmacy run
Organize a pharmacy run for medically fragile neighbors who might be too nervous to go outside right now. As long as you have their names and birth dates, you likely can pick up medications on their behalf.
Feed someone else
Make an extra meal and share it with a neighbor. L.A. restaurants are already doing it. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Prime Pizza and Sebastian’s Mediterranean Cuisine are providing takeout meals for hungry students. At Gus’s Mid-City, Long Beach, Burbank and Santa Ana locations, free food is provided to children from noon to 8 p.m. daily. Raehan Qureshi, a Los Angeles resident who owns the locations, was inspired to help others based on feedback from his staff. “There has been a lot of press on how much the pandemic is impacting restaurant owners and employees,” he said, “but we would be nowhere without, in turn, having the support of our local communities. And we thought it would be best to reciprocate at this time of need.”